Talking Point – June 2021

ABOUT THIS time last year, a month or so into lockdown, one of the questions our church leadership team asked one another was, “What are you NOT missing? Are there any positives about this strange experience?” One person replied, “I’m not missing being busy all the time.”
Prior to lockdown, if I asked someone how they were, (or even if someone asked me) the reply was often, “Busy!” or “Too busy!” Perhaps for some the past year has continued to be busy, particularly for those who have been on the frontline, working in caring professions or in schools, or trying to home-school children and hold down jobs. For others, life has definitely slowed. For many this has been a good thing.
I recently read a book written for clergy called, ‘Strengthening the Soul of your leadership’(1) in which the author gently encourages her readers to slow down and take time to notice where God is at work. She points to Moses’ experience in the Old Testament when his attention is caught by a burning bush that is not being consumed. Moses says, “I must turn aside and look at this strange sight!” (Exodus 3, verse 3) Moses’ noticing, and turning aside, leads to a life-changing encounter with God. All of Moses’ future ministry flows from his encounters with God. He is able to withstand the pressures of leadership and all the challenges life throws at him because he is rooted in God and receives his instructions, and empowerment, from Him.
Jesus’ life showed the same pattern. He regularly withdrew to lonely places to pray, and stated that he only did what he saw his Father doing (John 5, verse 19). He noticed things others might have missed – think of the woman offering her two mites at the temple (Mark 12, verses 41-42), or people jostling for the honoured seats at a dinner table, (Luke 14, verse 7). And Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. Even when he was on the way to heal Jairus’ dying daughter he made time for a woman who needed not just to be healed, but to be freed from shame and guilt, affirmed as a child of God (Luke 8, verses 40-48). He was constantly alert to the promptings of the Spirit and the will of his Father.
In 2017 Bishop Steven in his booklet ‘Exploring the Beatitudes’(2) asked us to consider, “How can we/ the church be good news in an over-active over-busy world?” Could it be that one of the gifts given us this past year has been the opportunity to slow down and notice the burning bushes in our midst, and to be a bit more alert to the promptings of God’s Spirit as we go about our daily lives? If it is, that’s a gift that’s really worth hanging on to.
1. ‘Strengthening the Soul of your leadership’ – Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley
Barton (IVP 2018)
2. ‘Exploring the Beatitudes’ by Steven Croft (Diocese of Oxford 2017)